Dispelling Refinancing Myths

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.


For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing.


Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?


Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch to a shorter term fixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.


Look out folks — we’re going to get scorched this weekend!  So as you’re out and about enjoying all the festivities, be sure to stay hydrated and covered up with light, loosely fitting clothes.  After all, you don’t want to be mistaken for an over-grilled sausage!!

Amdur Productions is once again returning to the base of the Tribune Tower (435 N. Michigan Ave.) on the Near North Side for its 4th annual Artfest Michigan Avenue this Saturday (10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.).  It’s a fine art festival showcasing the work of 70 juried artists from across the country in a wide variety of mediums.  From gorgeous glass and jewelry to functional wearables and sustainable, up-cycled artworks, this festival has something for everyone!  It also has a relaxing view of the Chicago River- making this a must go-to event!!

The pavement of Howard Street (1617 W. Howard St.) in the Rogers Park neighborhood will become a canvas for artists during their NEW Chalk Howard Street-Art Festival this Saturday (11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.).  This family-friendly festival will not only feature internationally renowned 3D street artists, local 2D chalk artists, amateur artists, and kids’ art, but also live music, entertainment, food, drinks, and an immersive art experience!  It’s where you can be you!!

Chicago’s Water Lantern Festival takes place this Saturday at the Humboldt Park lagoon (1400 N. Humboldt Dr.).  At this family-friendly event you’ll experience the magic of thousands of lanterns as the soft lights reflect upon the water.  Gates open at 5:30 p.m., enjoy food trucks & music (5:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.), design your lantern (8:00 p.m.), then launch your lantern (9:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.)!  It’s a festival filled with fun, happiness, hope, and great memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime!!

Help raise money for the families of fallen police officers and firefighters at this year’s Rock the Badges VII at Six Corners (Milwaukee Ave./Irving Park Rd./Cicero Ave.) in the Old Irving Park neighborhood this Saturday (12:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m.) and Sunday (12:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.).  Cheer on your favorite police and/or fire bands as they rock this 7th annual event for the First Responder Charity Fundraiser.  Your admission ticket makes you eligible for a variety of free door prizes.  Split-the-pot cash raffles will be held throughout the event and you can win a variety of gift certificates and other wonderful items via raffle tickets!  Select food trucks will be serving up their favorites as well!!  So arrive early, eat early, and then get ready to rock!!!

The Humana Rock N Roll Chicago Marathon Series takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop.  This 11th annual 13.1-mile block party offers two days of running.  The 5K takes place Saturday (8:00 a.m.) in Grant Park while the 10K and Half Marathon are on Sunday (6:30 a.m.) through the streets of downtown.  Live local bands and entertainment will be on hand throughout the course!  And the celebration wraps up with a free finish line festival and headline concert!!

This weekend’s Movies in the Parks are:

“Black Panther” – Bradley Park (9729 S. Yates Ave.) — Jeffery Manor section of South Deering
“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” – Horner Park (2741 W. Montrose Ave.) – Irving Park
“Spider-Man:  Into the Spider-Verse” – Washington Park (5531 S. King Dr.) – Woodlawn

“The Grinch” – Jonquil Park (1001 W. Wrightwood Ave.) – Lincoln Park

Don’t Get Scorched!  Be Safe!!

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Chicago Loop, Lincoln Square, Evanston

Bucktown and Wicker Park: If you’re looking to show off your skills, you’ve got to check out the Monthly Open Mic Night at Volumes Book Cafe. On the first Wednesday of every month, they have an Open Mic Series. Poetry and prose are both welcome and they kindly ask that you limit your selections to 5 minutes. Sign up begins at 6:45 pm and performances start at 7 pm. If you would like to be a featured reader, contact volumesbooks@gmail.com

Lincoln Park: Mark your calendars now for Chicago Hot Dog Fest! From August 9-11, The Chicago History Museum presents the perfect Chicago-style picnic. The fest is Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm. There will be a full line-up of bands, family activities, and of course, Vienna Beef Hot Dogs prepared in various regional and ethnic styles by the city’s top hot dog vendors. Vendors include Byron’s Hot Dogs, Luella’s Southern Kitchen, Chicago’s Doghouse, El Campeon, Wilson Dogs, and more. Find more information on the official website

Lakeview: If you need a little relaxation this summer, check out the Zen Meditation Workshop at the Japanese Culture Center. On Sunday July 20 from 12-2 pm, this intro class is recommended for anyone who is new to zen meditation or who wants to deepen their existing practice. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here.

Chicago Loop: It’s time for the coolest party of the summer! Join The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a fabulous party under the stars on Chicago’s most famous yacht, the Columbia Yacht Club on Saturday, July 27 from 7-11 pm. “Yacht Rock the Boat” features an open bar, gourmet food, live music, games, DJ Yacht Rock, and much more.  Proceeds support lifesaving blood cancer research and patient services, bringing help and hope to patients and their families. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased here.

Lincoln Square: It’s time for a weekend of fun in Horner Park! First up is Horner Brew Fest on Friday, July 19 from 6 to 10 pm. Brewfest is an annual fundraiser to support the sustainability initiatives of the Horner Park Advisory Council. You’ll enjoy four hours of cold craft beer from twenty of Chicago’s best local breweries and cider houses, sample tasty treats from local food trucks, and enjoy live music from MB and the Chargers, one of Chicago’s most popular cover bands. Tickets are $40 per person, which includes: admission to the event, a tasting glass, and samples from every attending brewery. Purchase your tickets here now. Then, on Saturday July 20th, it’s Family Day at Horner Park. There will be river activities, live music, games, activities, and more. The night will end with a viewing of E.T. in the park! 

Evanston: What better way to celebrate summer than with a good, old fashioned ice cream social? Join The Evanston History Center for The Annual Ice Cream Social on Saturday, July 27 from 1-3 pm. From 12-2, take your kiddos to the “Let’s Play Trailer” where they can enjoy games and activities geared towards ages 3-12. From 1-2 pm, you’ll hear The Ridgeville Band play and from 2-3 pm, you’ll see Kevin Kelly’s Magic Show. From 1-3 pm, you will have free admission to the Dawes House and can check out the new exhibit “Dry Evanston: The Untold Story”. Complimentary frozen yogurt will be served, courtesy of Evanston’s own YoFresh Yogurt Cafe. This is a rain or shine event!


Summer Series – Millennium Park Summer Music Series

Summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy some live music! And what’s a more beautiful venue than Millennium Park? This week, we’re telling you all about the Millennium Park Summer Music Series!

This is a series of FREE outdoor concerts at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, from now until August 15. It features a wide variety of genre-defying music from top local, national, and international artists—both established and emerging.

Thursday, July 18, 6:30 pm

Orchestral Interpretations of J Dilla, directed by Miguel Atwood Ferguson

Miguel Atwood Ferguson is a multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer, music director, producer, DJ, and educator. In this concert, he re-envisions the music of Jay Dee (J Dilla), a modern hip hop producer. 

Kenny Keys 

Chicago native Kenny Keys is a pianist, composer, producer, and music teacher. His first album Everything Must Changeis a mellow, instrumental hip-hop and jazz album. Since then, he has also co-produced a digital album called Corinthian Cadillac. 

Thursday, July 25, 6:30 pm

Los Amigos Invisibles

Los Amigos is a performance-oriented Venezuelan dance band. They play a blend of disco, funk, and acid jazz, mixed with Latin rhythms. They’ve released 11 critically acclaimed albums. 

City of the Sun

City of the Sun is an instrumental band with guitarists John Pita and Avi Snow and percussionist Zach Para. 

Monday, July 29, 6:30 pm

Rev. Sekou

Rev. Sekou’s music is a unique combination of North Mississippi hill country music, Arkansas delta blues, Memphis soul, and pentecostal steel guitar. He released an album in 2017 titled In Times LikeThese, including the modern Civil Rights anthem “We Comin’.”

Cha Wa

Cha Wa is  mixture of a New Orleans brass band and a Mardi Gras Indian funk band. In 2019, the band received a Grammy nomination and last year released their sophomore album Spyboy – a combination of ‘70s funk rhythm, right horn parts and deep, bouncing sousaphone.

Monday, August 5, 6:30 pm

Love Love Love- Chicago Celebrates the Music of Donny Hathaway

The great R&B, soul music master Donny Hathaway will be celebrated in a showcase performed by Chicago artists under the musical direction of Corey Wilkes.

Sam Trump & The Soul Vortex

Sam “Trump” Harris is a multi-instrumentalist,singer, and songwriter from Houston, TX. Since moving to Chicago in 2009 to obtain his fine arts degree in music, he has become heavily involved in Chicago’s live music scene and is widely known as a bandleader, sideman, mentor, & curator. Sam Trump is also a long-standing member of HipHop, Soul, Jazz band, Sidewalk Chalk, who released their 4th album “An Orchid Is Born” in 2017.

Thursday, August 15, 6:30 pm

Jupiter & Okwess

Jupiter & Okwess’ musical expression spans from East Berlin (where Jupiter grew up) to the Congo with hints of James Brown and the dominant Congolese rumba style. The band’s second album Kin Sonic transcends the Congo’s unexplored musical heritage and dives into a pool of modern sounds.

Noura Mint Seymali

Noura Mint Seymali is a nationally beloved star in Mauritania and one of the foremost emissaries of modern Moorish music. Touring notable festivals and esteemed venues throughout the world, the griot vocalist and ardine (a type of harp) master merges the ancient musical traditions of Saharan and West Africa with a powerful, contemporary voice.

For more information on the series, check out this website.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Beat the Heat

I had a feeling that our long cold spring would lead to a hot summer and it has arrived with a vengeance. There was literally no break between having the heat on to starting the air conditioner. One week heat, the next air. Here are a few tips to save energy and money this summer- and keep you cooler too!

There are several tips to make your cooling system more efficient. Search for leaks and seal them. Use exterior silicone caulk around doors and windows. Check in the attic and basement where ductwork or conduit leaves or enters the house. Use expanding foam insulation here. Make sure your attic contains the required insulation to bring it to R-22 at a minimum. 

Of course, we all know to use a programmable thermostat to regulate cooling. Raising the temperature just a couple degrees will save a lot of money. You can also keep cool with fans. Fans use much less energy and move that cooler, drier air around. Run ceiling fans counterclockwise. Invest in a whole-house fan and use at night when it’s cooler out. This will draw cool air in while sucking out the hot air. Keep shades drawn on sun facing windows during the day, especially west facing ones. Even your choice of bulbs makes a difference. Compact fluorescents and LED lights run cooler than incandescent.

You are probably eating lighter and less during heat waves; that’s good. We cook on the grill even in the heat. We keep our grill just outside the kitchen door so it heats up the house less. We always take advantage of every fire by cooking multiple meats and veggies. Steaks for tonight; lamb chops and grilled vegetables for the next night. Throw on a few Italian sausages for pasta and add fresh tomato sauce. We do have smaller portions; we share a steak and have fresh cut veggies or small salads. Eat smaller meals, but more frequently. 

Stay hydrated, take it easy, and you’ll get through this hot spell.  



This second weekend of July brings Chicagoans a blazin’ hot time – both festival and temp-wise!  In fact, there are so many festivals and events taking place this weekend, I can’t cover them all- so here’s a link to view them!!

The Taste of Chicago 2019 once again showcases the diversity of Chicago’s dining scene along with music concerts and other activities for the entire family at this free outdoor food festival on Saturday and Sunday (10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.) at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop.  Participating restaurants include Billy Goat Tavern, Kasia’s Deli, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, The Slab Bar-B-Que, and many others.  Special events include the Eli’s Cheesecake Birthday Celebration which takes place Saturday (12:30 p.m.) at Buckingham Fountain (sing Happy Birthday and celebrate with a slice of complimentary cheesecake while supplies last); the Taste Playground including the return of the Taste of Chicago Ferris Wheel and an inflatables area for the kids; the Farm to Festival area with horticulture fun and education for all ages; the Theatre Garden at the Taste with performances of musical theatre by local theatre talent, improv and sketch comedy, and so much more!  You won’t be disappointed!!

The Midwest’s Best Summer Festival, Windy City Smokeout, has a new location this year right outside of Chicago’s historic United Center (1901 W. Madison St.) on the Near West Side this Saturday and Sunday.  Twenty of the world’s best pitmasters will dish out their finest finger-lickin’ BBQ, including our hometown pitmasters from Bub City, Lillie’s Q, and Smoque BBQ along with Against the Grain (Louisville, KY), Blue Oak BBQ (New Orleans, LA), Home Team BBQ (Charleston, SC), Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood, TX), and many others!  Wash this all down with some ice-cold beer from local and national breweries.  Then get down with the best in country music featuring both world-renowned and up-and-coming artists!!  There’s nothing better than world-class BBQ and award-winning country music!!!

Join Roscoe Village’s 13th annual mouth-watering food extravaganza at this year’s Roscoe Village Burger Fest at Belmont and Damen Avenues on Saturday and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.).  Savory burgers and a rockin’ music lineup on two stages are in the spotlight at this food bash along with arts & crafts vendors and an action-packed Kids Zone area.  The Billy Goat Tavern, Butcher and The Burger, Carol’s Pub, and Fatso’s Last Stand are just a few of the patty masters on hand!  This fest goes to extraordinary lengths to impress burger aficionados so fire up those grills!!

Join the Lincoln Square neighborhood at it’s Square Roots and Music Festival this Saturday (12:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) and Sunday (12:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.) at 4700 N. Lincoln Avenue.  Enjoy craft brews (including special batch and limited release taps) from Chicago and regional craft breweries, eclectic cuisine from amazing Lincoln Square and Ravenswood restaurants, unique products and fine art from regional vendors and retailers, and diverse entertainment provided by the Old Town School of Folk Music on four stages!  It’s a multidimensional experience for all ages!!

This weekend’s Movies in the Parks are:

“Napolean Dynamite” – Buttercup Park (4901 N. Sheridan Rd.) – Uptown
“Ghostbusters (1984)” – Oz Park (2021 N. Burling St.) – Lincoln Park
“The Incredibles 2” – Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens (1801 S. Indiana Ave.) South Loop
“Big Hero 6” – Skinner Park (1331 W. Adams St.) – Near West Side

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” – Jonquil Park (1001 W. Wrightwood Ave.) – Lincoln Park

Are You Ready for a Blazin’ Hot Time?

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, River North, Logan Square, Oak Park

Lincoln Park: It’s almost time for Taste of Lincoln Avenue! This is the 36th year and the event is bigger and better than ever. On Saturday July 27 and Sunday July 28 from 12 to 10 pm, Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood will be taken over by this fantastic fest. Over 100 food, arts/crafts, and other vendors will be featured. There are also two stages of live music featuring both national and regional acts; a Kids Carnival with entertainment, arts activities, pony rides, kiddie rides, and more; Wine, Whiskey, and Tequila tastings for the adults; and a Chocolate Fest with tasting and sales. There is a suggested $10 donation for entry. Find more information here

Lakeview: Do you love the X-Files? You’ve got to check out “I Wanna Believe: An X-Files Musical Parody” playing at Annoyance Theatre! A deadly dancing epidemic is spreading among suburbanites and Mulder and Scully are finally forced to confront their feelings for each other, all while singing and dancing. Hurry, you only have a couple of weeks to catch this show! It runs on Thursday nights at 7:30 pm until July 25. Purchase your tickets here now.

Bucktown and Wicker Park: 826CHI is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Their services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. Support this amazing cause by attending 826FORK 2019! On Thursday, July 18 from 7 to 9:30 pm, you’ll experience live acoustic music adapted from poems and stories by 826CHI students. 11 local bands will present 11 pieces written by students aged 6-18. Temperance Beer Co. and Revolution Brewing are generously providing free drinks. Tickets are $5, and all proceeds will will support 826CHI’s tuition-free literary arts programs, which serve over 3,500 Chicago students annually. Find more information here.

River North: Celebrate summer with the Wet Hot American Cider Fest! On Sunday July 21 from 12-5 pm, Headquarters Beercade in River North is hosting a fantastic summer festival. This fest features over 30 of the country’s most desirable hard ciders, camp games, summer food favorites, and more. You can bob for boozy apples, smash apples with a sledge hammer, nosh on corn dogs and funnel cakes, and play free arcade games! Your ticket purchase includes admission to the event, as well as 6 tickets to be used at your discretion. You can also purchase extra ticket packages on site in quantities of 6, 12, and 24. Each cider and summer camp game is worth 1 ticket. General admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Logan Square: Bring the kiddos to a Free Family Summer Lawn Party! Hosted by Smart Love Preschool, this event is sure to be fun for the whole family. On Saturday July 20 from 10 am to 1 pm, you’ll enjoy a summer outdoor extravaganza. They’ll be serving up Miko’s Italian Ice, hosting arts and crafts activities, gardening activities, bubbles, balloon animals, games, and a special performance by Mr. Singer and the Sharp Cookies at 11 am. Check out their website for more info.

Oak Park: Mark your calendars for the 45th Annual Oak Park Ave. Lake Arts & Crafts Show!  The show is Saturday, August 24 from 11 am to 7 pm and Sunday, August 25 from 9 am to 5 pm. Artists from far and near will exhibit their work, ranging from paintings, glass works, jewelry, wood arts, art wear, and much more. You can also experience Art in Action, as some artists will be working and demonstrating at their booths during the show. Free programs are available, that list exhibitors, their mediums, and their locations in the show. Admission is free. Find more information here!


Summer Series – Burger Night

Do you love burgers? This week’s Summer Series is for you! Every Tuesday night between June and August, Publican Quality Meats hosts Burger Night. This weekly series is from 5:30 to 9 pm. Each week, two Chicago chefs compete for the “Best Burger” title, each creating a specialty burger. The winner is crowned by decree of most burgers sold. 

Here’s a look at the lineup:

July 16: Michael Bridges and Bryan Lewis of Bungalow by Middle Brow VS. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

July 23: Bayan Ko VS. Kimski and Marz Community Brewing CO

July 30: Rick Cooper VS. Jenny & Joe Shanahan

August 6: Lost Larson VS. Spinning J

August 13: Cafe Marie-Jeanne VS. Andres Padilla of Lena Brava

August 20: Best Intentions VS. Three Floyds Brewing CO

August 27: Half Acre Beer Company VS. Revolution Brewing 

Come chow down at this popular Fulton Market spot! It’s a butcher shop, as well as an all-day cafe. Cheer on your favorite participating bars and restaurants, all while noshing on delicious burgers and drinking bourbon and beer specials. For more information about PQM, check out their website.


5 Negotiating Tactics That Can Hurt A Sale

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers should avoid:


Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.


Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
“Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.


Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.


Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.


While there are things you can do to help boost your odds of a successful deal, there are a number of others that can prevent the sale from happening. WHEN BUYING A HOME, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT.

Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – July Chores Around the Yard

We have had a crazy spring and summer this year here in Chicagoland. Spring was practically nonexistent with extremely cold temperatures with a lot of rain. Then summer appeared with a vengeance. We went from 50 to 90 degrees within 10 days. Since we planted so late, everything is just getting established. Now it’s time to assess everything in the yard. 

With all the rain, the weeds are going crazy. It’s so much easier to pull them after it rains when the soil is soft. It also makes it easier to pull the entire root out. The more weed roots we get out, the less we’ll have growing back. If the soil is dry, make weeding easier by using a hoe or a sod cutter to slice underneath the soil. 

Trim bushes and hedges, cutting any inside branches that have no foliage at the ground. Refresh all the mulch around the yard. Add a fresh inch if needed to raise to two inches. Keep mulch clear of trunks and stems a few inches to discourage insects.

Lawns could use some fertilizer; the spring application will have done its’ job. Water it in well. Just because it has rained a lot, doesn’t mean we don’t need to water; especially when it is extremely hot. An inch a week is needed in both lawn and garden. The garden can use some fertilizer too. 

Edge around all the beds and lawn for a crisp appearance. Use a half moon cutter. Keep the grass even at the edge by turning your weed eater sideways. If you have bare spots in your landscape, fill in with containers of flowers. Many are on sale now at the garden center. Do remember they may need to be watered frequently. You can also use watering crystals that will hold water. 

Do a good check all around the exterior of the house. Make sure there is no water puddling near the foundation. Free flowing gutters and clean outside drains should assure that water stays away, but with two months of rain nearly every day can wreak havoc on even the best drainage systems.